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Episode 189 - Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow: LIVE!


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#41 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 02:15 PM

View PostJustinL, on 25 May 2018 - 11:08 AM, said:

It's a testament to how dull and non-engaging this film is that I saw it in the theater when it was released and remembered NONE of it. So much so, I couldn't remember the ending, and I assumed it was going to be revealed that DEX WAS THE VILLAIN.


Hah, I completely forgot that Angelina Jolie was only in this movie for about five minutes.

#42 Jrgolden42

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 04:05 PM

The question of when this movie takes place was brought up in the show. If Godzilla exists in it then it probably takes place some time after the end of WWII, as traditionally Godzilla was awakened and empowered by the nuclear radiation from the atomic bombs dropped on Japan.

Godzillas existence in this movie also only puts it one degree of separation away from Marvel, as they published a 24 issue series in which Godzilla fought the Avengers, SHIELD, and other Marvel characters since they only had the rights to Godzilla and not the other monsters for him to fight. This leads to the biggest question, when will they put Sky Captain in the MCU?

#43 grudlian.

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 04:07 PM

View PostWien, on 25 May 2018 - 01:04 PM, said:

Posted Image

Does Sky Captain take place in the Godzilla cinematic universe?

They mention this in the episode. My question is that this movie takes place in the 1940s but Godzilla came out in the 1950s. Of all the anachronisms, this one bothers me most.

#44 Cam Bert

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 04:42 PM

This is a very quick and very minor thing that I noticed. When Sky Captain and Polly are approaching Totenkopf's lair in the Lost World we pan up a set of stairs leading up to it. On those stairs we see the skeleton of a saber tooth tiger chained up. However most people when they chain up a pet do so by affixing the chain to a collar which goes around the neck. Yet we clearly see that this poor saber tooth was chained up by an ankle collar on this front paw. Why would a genius like Totenkopf do this? If he's suppose to be a guard creature of some sort and ankle chain would only hinder his effectiveness. He couldn't swipe properly and his distance in severely hampered. If he was a pet, why not let him roam free like the dinosaurs? I just feel sad for this dead neglected fella.
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#45 JoelSchlosberg

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 05:00 PM

Well them starting off the movie with a prominent close-up of the "Hindenburg III" makes it clear from the get-go that history in the movie's universe hasn't unfolded in quite the same way as our own. If there's a zeppelin that never really existed at all, existing events could have occurred at different times. (Similar to how the sitcom The Goldbergs takes place in a deliberately vague "1980something" that blends its creator's memories of the entire decade, so that he can go to see Poltergeist on its theatrical run which was in the summer of 1982, but in the same episode wear a T-shirt of Top Gun and play The Legend of Zelda both of which didn't come out until 1986.) It's far from alone in such regard - the 1930s Frankenstein movies take place in a setting that's a mix of their own decade and the early 1800s of Mary Shelley's original book. And the anachronisms are less of a stretch than, say, Captain America: The First Avenger having the Unisphere which wasn't built until 1964.

In fact, there's even a science fiction short story that won both of the top prizes for that category (the Hugo and Nebula awards) that specifically takes place in an alternate history wherein zeppelins regularly dock with the Empire State Building using technology that has been developed in the wake of the first and only World War - Fritz Leiber's "Catch That Zeppelin!" With Leiber spelling out what is implied in Sky Captain that Nazism never arose in the alternate timeline - instead of developing technologies of warfare, Germany has developed peaceful use of blimp tech that is clearly impractical for aerial combat.

#46 CakeBug Tranch

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 05:35 PM

View PostJoelSchlosberg, on 25 May 2018 - 05:00 PM, said:

Well them starting off the movie with a prominent close-up of the "Hindenburg III" makes it clear from the get-go that history in the movie's universe hasn't unfolded in quite the same way as our own. If there's a zeppelin that never really existed at all, existing events could have occurred at different times. (Similar to how the sitcom The Goldbergs takes place in a deliberately vague "1980something" that blends its creator's memories of the entire decade, so that he can go to see Poltergeist on its theatrical run which was in the summer of 1982, but in the same episode wear a T-shirt of Top Gun and play The Legend of Zelda both of which didn't come out until 1986.) It's far from alone in such regard - the 1930s Frankenstein movies take place in a setting that's a mix of their own decade and the early 1800s of Mary Shelley's original book. And the anachronisms are less of a stretch than, say, Captain America: The First Avenger having the Unisphere which wasn't built until 1964.

In fact, there's even a science fiction short story that won both of the top prizes for that category (the Hugo and Nebula awards) that specifically takes place in an alternate history wherein zeppelins regularly dock with the Empire State Building using technology that has been developed in the wake of the first and only World War - Fritz Leiber's "Catch That Zeppelin!" With Leiber spelling out what is implied in Sky Captain that Nazism never arose in the alternate timeline - instead of developing technologies of warfare, Germany has developed peaceful use of blimp tech that is clearly impractical for aerial combat.

Don't forget Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series, which is about as silly and ridiculous and sublimely brilliant as anything that's been written in the last decade or so. Set in Swindon in a parallel 1985 (at least the first book is), everyone travels by zeppelin, watches major league croquet, and has genetically reengineered extinct species as pets.
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#47 EvRobert

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 06:42 PM

I've come back after an extended absence, solely to defend this film.

Actually, I don't know if it can be defended per se, but I can try and help explain it.

Ya see, back in the 30s, world war 1 pilot Eddie Rickenbacker wrote a comic strip called Ace Drummond, that featured a daredevil esque pilot who fought various villains. This was later adapted into a movie serial by the same name (with Lon Chaney in a supporting role). There was also a run of stories about a hero named "G-8" who was a heroic aviator, there were the radio shows Captain Midnight (aka Jet Jackson: Flying Commando for TV), and The Air Adventures of Jimmie Allen and the classic "AIRBOY". Whereas Spielberg/Lucas were going for the more swashbuckling intellectual hero (i.e. Doc Savage) with Indiana Jones, I think that the attempt here was to mimic the "daredevil pilot" troupe style story. In fact, this is a troupe George R.R. Martin pulled out in his first Wildcards book with the character of "Jetboy".

Look at this picture of the last re-release of this series:
Posted Image

And that story is a very small (but crucial) part of that series of books. But there is something about the pilot, in his leather bomber jacket, scarf in the wind, gun in hand, that still has a visual appeal.

That's the ascetic I believe the creators of this film were going for, much like The Shadow and The Phantom, they didn't succeed, at least the film LOOKED and FELT like those types of films, in fact I would argue Sky Captain is closer to that ascetic then those films did.

I would also argue that the cast serves it's purpose as a homage to "pulp novels". In the original pulps you got a really high quality glossy cover promising action, danger and sex. This, one could argue, swaps out the high quality glossy cover for a cast of big name actors but like a pulp novel that was written quickly for a dime a word or something, this is stretched out without much story.

Does that make it a good modern movie? No. Spielberg and Lucas were able to maintain the aura of the serial adventurer ala Doc Savage with a nice 80s touch (at least the first 3 movies. Crystal Skull falls apart for the same reason this does, it tries to hard to emulate a style of film that doesn't exist anymore) that Conran wasn't able to.

Finally, minor correction, technically this is "DIESELPUNK" not "STEAMPUNK"

#48 nthurkettle

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 08:15 PM

I wanted to highlight this article in the London Telegraph, published in 2015, catching up with Kevin Conran, brother of Sky Captain director Kerry Conran and one of the movie's lead designers and visual effects artists. Kerry himself still won't talk publicly about the experience:

https://www.telegrap...-what-happened/

It actually gives you some sympathy for these brothers, who sound like they were lifted way, way, way out of their league by an ambitious producer, and were actually being courted and saluted by the biggest filmmakers in Hollywood for what was honestly seen by people like George Lucas and J.J. Abrams as a pioneering new filmmaking method, until the movie became a financial catastrophe and everyone scattered.

Kevin Conran has a really intriguing quote about the film's reported $70 million budget. He says:

Quote

“I take great issue with that [budget figure] personally and I’d like someone to show me where all that money went,” says Kevin. “I don’t support those numbers and I never have. We walked into Jon Avnet’s office that first day and he said, ‘What do you want for the production?’ and we said $3 million. We could have done a version of this film for $3 million. It would have been black-and-white and sans name actors…

“But even still, this whole thing was going to be under $20 million. How it went from 20 to 70, you tell me.”


Add to this that the money for the film was raised outside the studio system, and here's my question - is there a chance that we're looking at a real-world scenario like Mel Brooks' The Producers, where someone took advantage of the fact that big movie stars were getting dazzled by this demo, and that the technology was so new that no one knew how much the movie would actually cost to make, and so raised way, way more money than they actually needed and just pocketed it and let these rookie filmmakers crash and burn knowing that no one would pay as much attention to the financial details of a flop? Can we get Blake Harris on the case of this?

#49 JoelSchlosberg

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 08:20 PM

Correction: Sin City was not released in the same year as Sky Captain but the next year - and in fact, its director met with the Conrans in the interim and modeled his digital-backlot approach on theirs:

Quote

"We rather suffered from the first-guy-through-the-wall syndrome. We took the hits because we were new," Kevin says. "A lot of people don't want things to change and aren't interested in something new or different. Out of that whole moment in time, Kerry and I were invited to Skywalker Ranch by George Lucas where we spent a weekend just hanging out with him, Robert Rodriguez, James Cameron, Brad Bird and Robert Zemeckis. It was all these luminaries and us.

"They were really interested in what we were doing and I personally felt validated at that point. Robert Rodriguez was really cool. He was getting ready to do Sin City, so he was of course very curious about how we were going about Sky Captain. If we had been released somewhat later, the reception might have been different. We're definitely a cult favourite among people who like this kind of movie."


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Posted 25 May 2018 - 08:54 PM

Paul kept asking about Sky Captain's profession and asked the nagging question "What is a sky captain?" I want to address this, but the answer involves one of the weirder aspects of this alternate 40s US ... weirder than the three generations of Hinderburgs and the British accents of New Yorkers.

First, I think it's obvious that "Sky Captain" is not a profession or a thing ... it's just Joe's superhero name. The public calls him "Sky Captain" just like it calls Tony Stark "Iron Man."

But the thing is, "Sky Captain" is not a superhero ... he's a mercenary. The news broadcast clearly states that the city is waiting on Sky Captain "and his army-for-hire." Army-for-hire means mercenaries. Sky Captain is in it for the money, and some way some how probably expects to be paid for all the hero work he's doing. That's how he funds his tricked out dogfighter and his cool base with a huge hanger and cannons and a crackerjack weapons development/radio triangulation/gum chewing wing for his best friend/sidekick/submissive.

And in this alternate reality, there appears to be NO standing military of any kind. When the robots attack, we see a few cops firing tommy guns at them but otherwise, no one is doing anything to combat them except for Sky Captain. Again, the radio news guy immediately puts all the city's hopes squarely on Sky Captain, which implies that that is standard procedure because they have no army. The modern day equivalent of this would be if we had to call in Blackwater in emergency situations. And we see Sky Captain breaking some pretty severe rules of engagement like firing weapons and dropping bombs in highly populated areas and flying 10 feet above paved city roads.

He's a cavalier merc with a million dollar operation and no overseeing regulatory body that the whole country relies upon for its security. How and why, in a world where Germany is wrangling secret cabals of scientists and Britain has a fucking armada of flying aircraft carriers, has this been allowed to happen?

#51 The Triple Lindy

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:16 PM

View Postsycasey 2.0, on 25 May 2018 - 08:12 AM, said:

Haven't listened to the pod yet, but whenever I see the title of this movie I have this scene in my head, so I must post:



It also reminds me of "Skytanic," one of my favorite episodes of Archer. Cuz of all the dirigibles.

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#52 Ryan Sz

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 09:29 PM

What's interesting in this film in comparison to Sin City is that Robert Rodriguez clearly looked to see what went wrong with this film and made sure not to make those mistakes with his film. While Sky Captain was so focused on showcasing big robots and city scapes along with dogfights, Sin City was almost always small locations and focused on the characters, thus hiding the early flaws in digital-backlot films. I do kinda get the director's skepticism about the end budget as he really only had three A level actors and a couple character actors in the cast, while Sin City had an entire cast made up of recognizable celebrities, but I think what I mentioned about them using so much CGI for the overall environment in comparison to Sin City led to that bigger budget.

Also this film further cements my feelings that Roger Ebert was one of the most overrated movie critics of all time as he gave this film 4 out of 4 stars, which is more than such classics as The Godfather part 2 and Shawshank Redemption. I have to assume that the reason this has such a high RT score is because people were into the idea of the digital backlot style of filming and what could be done with it.

Lastly, I would love for them to cover Den of Thieves on the show, although it really is a slog at 2 1/2 hrs. Gerard Butler is easily the best part as an unhinged cop and the handful of gunfights are pretty well shot and exciting.
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#53 Cam Bert

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Posted 25 May 2018 - 11:12 PM

I really want to know if the captain in Sky Captain is a rank or a title. Given Captain American, Captain Britain, Captain Marvel, etc. we know that "captain" is just attached to superhero types. Heck you don't have to have a military background to be named captain just look at Captain Planet and Captain Caveman. The name "Sky Captain" sounds very superhero-y and invokes classic characters and serials so it is safe to assume it just a title. However, when Sky Captain returns to base we see him go into his office and on the door is written "Captain H. Joseph Sullivan" which would seemingly imply that he is also ranked captain as well. Sky Captain is in charge of the whole operation seemingly thus them being called "Sky Captain and his army for hire" but captain is not the highest rank there is in the air force, army or police. You have major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and general all above it. Not the mentioned the starred tier ranking of generals after that. It's a classic chicken and egg problem, was he a captain first or was he sky captain first? Did he call himself Sky Captain and then applied the rank of captain to himself, or did he achieve the rank of captain then start his own mercenary business and call himself Sky Captain based on his highest earned rank?
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#54 CakeBug Tranch

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 05:00 AM

View PostCakeBug Tranch, on 25 May 2018 - 10:58 AM, said:

I am still in several states of shock that Olivier was in this movie. Olivier was a big part of my PhD thesis (which included the chance to examine his personal annotated shooting script for 'Richard III' which is held at the Folger Shakespeare Library in DC) and along with Branagh, I've become very sentimentally attached to him over the years. As such, it was a real surprise to see his likeness in this awful movie: which makes me wonder what on earth his estate was doing giving permission for it. Olivier was well known to be a curmudgeonly old bastard, and famously played Zeus in 'Clash of the Titans' entirely for the paycheck, with no real interest in the product (a lot like another of the Theatrical Knights around the same time, Alec Guinness, who slummed it to play Obi-Wan Kenobi and was vocal about what he thought of the content he was asked to say). I know that Olivier is reputed to have sold the portrait Salvador Dali made of him as Richard III to pay for his grandchildrens' schooling, and I know that Joan Plowright, Larry's widow, played a teacher in 'The Last Action Hero', showing the 'Now Might I Do It Pat' scene to a class full of kids, introducing him as "the man from the Mr Coffee commercials", so he's no stranger to selling out. But THIS? This is mind-boggling to me. They can't have possibly paid enough for his likeness for THIS to be his final film role, could they?

ETA: it seems they were pretty up-beat about it at the time: https://www.eonline....-in-sky-captain

Totally coincidentally - I am catching up on all the eps of HDTGM that I missed over the course of this school year, and just listened to The Jazz Singer this morning. At the end of that episode, when Paul is asking the team whether they would recommend this movie, each of them come up with casting ideas for a potential future reboot. After a bunch of suggestions, Chris Gethard makes the point that the movie couldn't be the same without Laurence Olivier in the main role, to which Paul replied that they should bring Olivier back in CGI, just like in Rogue One. It's spooky how exactly specific this was to Sky Captain: A MOVIE YOU HADN'T EVEN SEEN YET PAUL. Are you some kind of seer?
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#55 CakeBug Tranch

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 06:30 AM

View PostCam Bert, on 25 May 2018 - 11:12 PM, said:

I really want to know if the captain in Sky Captain is a rank or a title. Given Captain American, Captain Britain, Captain Marvel, etc. we know that "captain" is just attached to superhero types. Heck you don't have to have a military background to be named captain just look at Captain Planet and Captain Caveman. The name "Sky Captain" sounds very superhero-y and invokes classic characters and serials so it is safe to assume it just a title. However, when Sky Captain returns to base we see him go into his office and on the door is written "Captain H. Joseph Sullivan" which would seemingly imply that he is also ranked captain as well. Sky Captain is in charge of the whole operation seemingly thus them being called "Sky Captain and his army for hire" but captain is not the highest rank there is in the air force, army or police. You have major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and general all above it. Not the mentioned the starred tier ranking of generals after that. It's a classic chicken and egg problem, was he a captain first or was he sky captain first? Did he call himself Sky Captain and then applied the rank of captain to himself, or did he achieve the rank of captain then start his own mercenary business and call himself Sky Captain based on his highest earned rank?

I thought Sky Captain's office was a weird addition. Why does a Sky Captain need a Ground Office? For maps and radios? Or is there a lot of paperwork that goes along with being a Sky Captain? And clearly he's there a lot, since he has his name on the door and all. Why doesn't his door say 'Captain Joseph H. Sullivan, "SKY CAPTAIN"'? For that matter, does anyone actually call him "Sky Captain" except for the beat cop on the radio at the beginning? His faithful pet Dex calls him 'Cap', while Polly calls him 'Joe' and Angelina calls him 'Joseph'. 'Sky Captain' might indeed be his superhero name, but anyone who knows him even a little bit doesn't call him that. Even the troubling racial stereotype who craves sausages and helps him in Tibet calls him Joe.

With that in mind, I was struck by how little time Sky Captain actually spends in the sky.

He's in his plane between the following timestamps:
11.29-16.48
29.40-38.21
41.06-43.52
58.44-1.03.10
1.06.28-1.08.47
1.08.07-1.13.25 (underwater)

Out of the entire 104 minute running time, Sky Captain is in his plane or in the air for 23 minutes total. Another 3 minutes is spent underwater (I guess he's Sea Captain then). The rest of the time he's running, spying, punching women, all things that have very little to do with the Sky. How can he really be called Sky Captain when he's only in the sky for a fifth of the movie?
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#56 SlidePocket

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 07:01 AM

Oh I hope Transcendence gets talked at some point thanks to that conversation Joe had with that Uber driver!

#57 nthurkettle

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 07:03 AM

View PostCam Bert, on 25 May 2018 - 11:12 PM, said:

I really want to know if the captain in Sky Captain is a rank or a title. Given Captain American, Captain Britain, Captain Marvel, etc. we know that "captain" is just attached to superhero types. Heck you don't have to have a military background to be named captain just look at Captain Planet and Captain Caveman. The name "Sky Captain" sounds very superhero-y and invokes classic characters and serials so it is safe to assume it just a title. However, when Sky Captain returns to base we see him go into his office and on the door is written "Captain H. Joseph Sullivan" which would seemingly imply that he is also ranked captain as well. Sky Captain is in charge of the whole operation seemingly thus them being called "Sky Captain and his army for hire" but captain is not the highest rank there is in the air force, army or police. You have major, lieutenant colonel, colonel, and general all above it. Not the mentioned the starred tier ranking of generals after that. It's a classic chicken and egg problem, was he a captain first or was he sky captain first? Did he call himself Sky Captain and then applied the rank of captain to himself, or did he achieve the rank of captain then start his own mercenary business and call himself Sky Captain based on his highest earned rank?


My guess is that, being a mercenary, aka a freelancer, "Captain" is a good rank to self-market with. As they always say in marketing, your job is to make the customer feel like the hero - Mayor So-and-So saved the day by calling in Sky Captain! Ranked any higher, he might not sound like a guy who actually goes into battle himself; so he essentially runs the Flying Legion with the equivalent rank of a Squadron Commander, but that name for potential customers to remember is Sky Captain. These days he'd be building his brand on Instagram.

#58 Ryan Sz

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 07:52 AM

View Postnthurkettle, on 26 May 2018 - 07:03 AM, said:


My guess is that, being a mercenary, aka a freelancer, "Captain" is a good rank to self-market with. As they always say in marketing, your job is to make the customer feel like the hero - Mayor So-and-So saved the day by calling in Sky Captain! Ranked any higher, he might not sound like a guy who actually goes into battle himself; so he essentially runs the Flying Legion with the equivalent rank of a Squadron Commander, but that name for potential customers to remember is Sky Captain. These days he'd be building his brand on Instagram.

Also, Captain flows off the tongue so much smoother than a rank like Lieutenant or Corporal, which helps with branding. Sky General sounds like a store and Sky Major could work but to me doesn't have the same kind of grandeur that Sky Captain does.
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2016 DLM Challenge: 618 movies (478 new)
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#59 tomspanks

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 08:09 AM

View PostCakeBug Tranch, on 26 May 2018 - 06:30 AM, said:

I thought Sky Captain's office was a weird addition. Why does a Sky Captain need a Ground Office? For maps and radios? Or is there a lot of paperwork that goes along with being a Sky Captain?


Oh for sure. He probably has to deal with insurance claims and lawsuits constantly for all the collateral damage he causes in the city.

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Posted 26 May 2018 - 08:19 AM

View PostCakeBug Tranch, on 25 May 2018 - 09:44 AM, said:

I'd also like to point out that Totenkopf's name literally translates to KILL HEAD, the most unfortunate villain naming in a long time. I believe it's supposed to properly translate to 'Death's Head', which explains the skull motifs on all of the robots, but I think we can all agree that it's a lot more amusing to have a villain named KILL HEAD.

With a name like that, I guess we shouldn't be surprised about the nefarious plan, but was I the only one who felt like the "and also then the earth will be incinerated" plot point was tacked on at the last minute? I feel like if the plan is to take off with animals and jizz vials to travel to NO ONE KNOWS WHERE - essentially Totenkopf is planning to recreate the flashback scene from 'Wall-E' - then no one on earth is harmed aside from having had their stuff stolen and shot into space. The only way to raise the stakes for everyone is to ADR in some dialogue which says "also by the way he's going to kill us too". But there's nothing stated about HOW we are going to all be incinerated: there's no Star-Killer base warming up and getting ready to kill the planet, and there's no countdown in KILL HEAD'S lair that will detonate. We just take it for granted that oh yeah by the way I think he'll kill us all too. How will he incinerate the earth? And why? You're leaving, you're going to the World of Tomorrow (with no humans to populate it, of course: what about THAT?), just wave goodbye and enjoy your retirement, KILL HEAD!

This makes me think of nominative determinism which is the idea that your name determines what your future to an extent. Some notable examples are Thomas Crapper, the inventor of the flush toilet, or Igor Judge, who became a Chief Justice. The idea is that, had these people had different names, they might have had totally different careers. While I'd typically write this off as coincidence in real life, we know that many common last names came from people's professions: blacksmiths inherited the name Smith, coopers (barrel makers) became Cooper, and so forth. So, it stands to reason if your name surname was Taylor and you became a tailor in real life, there could be some family history leading you down that path.
Creating names for characters that line up with their character traits is pretty common in art but imagine you are in the world of Sky Captain and your name is Killhead. If nominative determinism holds any weight, you probably are going to be a murderous disembodied head at some point.